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Timeline: History of Florida's Brightline high-speed train service

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Scroll to bottom of the story to see interactive timeline

 

May 9, 2007               

Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), parent company of Florida East Coast Railway, is sold for $3.5 billion in cash to Fortress Investment Group.

 

Mar. 22, 2012

FECI announces they are developing a privately owned and operated rail system between Miami and Orlando. The project, dubbed All Aboard Florida, will combine about 200 miles of existing tracks with a new 40 mile corridor. Preliminary plans include the option to expand service to Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. FECI thinks the project will cost about $1 billion and be completed by 2014.

 

Oct. 3, 2013

All Aboard Florida secures the rights to use a strip of land along SR 528 to build its final leg connecting tracks between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport.

 

Aug. 2014

All Aboard Florida applies for the sale of tax-exempt bonds to raise $1.75 billion. The money is earmarked for the completion of the rail project’s second phase connecting Orlando to West Palm Beach.

 

Sept. 11, 2014

Siemens USA announces it has been selected to build locomotives and passenger cars for All Aboard Florida’s planned high-speed rail line. Five “trainsets”(SC-44 Charger

locomotives and passenger cars) will be part of the original order with the company planning on adding five more at a later date. In June of 2015, Siemens announced it had won a $2.5 billion 30-year  to maintain and service the All Aboard Florida trainsets.contract

 

Oct. 29, 2014

Construction begins on the Ft. Lauderdale station.  

 

Nov. 12, 2014

Construction begins on the West Palm Beach station.         

 

Dec. 22, 2014

U.S. Department of Transportation Under Secretary Peter Rogoff approves a provisional allocation of private activity bonds (PABs) for $1.75 billion to All Aboard Florida.

 

April 27, 2015             

Martin County files a federal lawsuit against the USDOT challenging All Aboard Florida’s $1.75 billion worth of tax-exempt bonds. At issue: the county claims USDOT didn’t have the

authority to approve the bond sale until a study measuring the train’s impact on the environment was complete. The Martin County suit is the second against the USDOT (Indian River County filed suit on March 31, 2015).

 

July 2015

Construction begins in California on All Aboard Florida’s first trainset consisting of two high-speed locomotives and four coaches.

 

Aug. 4, 2015           

USDOT releases Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed All Aboard Florida Intercity Passenger Rail Service Project.

 

Nov. 9, 2015    

All Aboard Florida announces a new name for the project: Brightline.

 

Dec. 2015

USDOT provisionally grants financing of the $1.75 billion using tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs).

 

Sept.  30, 2016

In response to the Indian River and Martin counties lawsuit, All Aboard Florida withdraws its original application for $1.75 billion worth of bonds.

 

In its place, AAF applies for a  smaller bond sale of just $600 million (earmarked specifically for Phase I of the project).

                                  

Nov. 28, 2016 

USDOT withdraws its 2014 approval of the sale of $1.75 billion worth of bonds by All Aboard Florida. In its place, the agency grants provisional permission for the aforementioned smaller bond sale of just $600 million.

 

Dec. 14, 2016

BrightBlue, Brightline’s first two locomotives and four passenger cars, arrives in West Palm Beach after a 3,052 mile trip from the Siemens manufacturing plant in SacramentoBrightline plans on adding four more trainsets (BrightPink, BrightGreen, BrightOrange, and BrightRed) to give the railway the ability of running 32 daily trips. 

 

Feb. 11, 2017     

One of BrightBlue’s locomotives derails in West Palm Beach. The trainset had over $400k in damage.

 

Feb. 14, 2017       

Fortress Investment Group is bought by Japanese telecom conglomerate SoftBank Group for $3.3 billion.

 

Mar. 13, 2017        

BrightPink, the company’s second set of locomotives and passenger cars, arrives in Florida.

 

Mar. 28, 2017      

Florida East Coast Railway is sold to Mexican mining and rail conglomerate Grupo México Transportes for $2.1 billion in cash. The sale doesn’t effect Brightline as spokeswoman 

AnneMarie Mathews told the Miami-Herald: “Brightline is a separate company that has dual ownership of the corridor and the right to operate passenger service.”

 

May 10, 2017            

A federal judge dismisses the lawsuit against the USDOT filed by Indian River and Martin counties citing that since All Aboard Florida pulled its original request for $1.75 billion in

bonds, the issue is moot.

 

May 11, 2017        

BrightGreen and BrightOrange are delivered to Brightline in West Palm Beach from Siemens in Sacramento.

 

July 24, 2017         

A Brightline test train, operating on the mainline for signal testing, hit and killed an 18-year-old female on the tracks north of NW 20th Street in Boca Raton. Officials ruled the death a suicide. This is Brightline’s first fatal accident.

 

Oct. 5, 2017     

BrightRed, the company’s fifth and final trainset (locomotive and railcars), is delivered. 

 

October 30, 2017 

Brightline wins approval from the Florida Development Finance Corp. (a special state run financing unit that issues tax-exempt bonds to private entities) to sell $600 million in tax 

exempt bonds. The money is earmarked strictly for Phase I of the rail project. FDFC is the conduit issuer of the bonds.

 

Nov. 2, 2017  

Thirty-five-year-old Jennifer Reed is killed in Deerfield Beach when she was hit by a northbound train. This is Brightline’s second fatal accident.

 

Dec. 18, 2017

In a meeting with the Florida Development Finance Group, Brightline sought a $1.15 billion tax-exempt bond sale to finance the Orlando leg (Phase II) of the rail project. Just five 

days later (December 22nd), the company announced the USDOT had approved the bond allocation. As before, the FDFC would be the conduit issuer of the bonds.

 

Jan. 2018           

Brightline inaugurates regularly scheduled paid passenger service between Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The company’s first run was an invite only“Friends and Family 

sometime the following week Jan. 6.

 

Jan. 12, 2018

On eve of starting limited service between Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, 32-year-old Melissa Lavell was killed by a Brightline train. The accident happened at 6:25pm on a VIP preview run when a northbound train struck Lavell as she was attempting to cross near Northeast Sixth Avenue in in Boynton Beach. Witnesses told police Lavell ducked under the guardrails. This was Brightline’s third fatality and its second in Palm Beach County.

 

Jan. 13, 2018

Brightline service officially begins, kicking off with an 8am train leaving West Palm Beach to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

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